After his first-team reps, Chase Lucas always does the same thing. The Arizona State sophomore cornerback finds a spot close to coach Herm Edwards or position coach Tony White and asks questions. Or listens. Or simply observes.

Although the Chandler High product last season earned All-Pac-12 Second Team honors, Lucas admits the obvious: He’s still raw. He has much to learn.

The best part: He’s willing.

Since joining Edwards’ staff, White has not held back in discussing Lucas’ potential. He thinks he can be the best corner in the country, a future NFL first-round draft pick. Lucas – primarily an offensive player in high school — has the athletic ability. He has the hunger. He just has to show it – every practice rep, every game.

Three plays from ASU’s first week of practice reflect the cornerback’s continuing education. Let’s take a look:

READ MORE: How Chase Lucas’ mother stopped him from attending UCLA

Play 1

Second day of practice. First-team offense against first-team defense. Lucas is matched up against junior receiver N’Keal Harry, a preseason All-American.

Senior quarterback Manny Wilkins takes the snap and fires a quick pass to Harry, split left. Lucas times it perfectly. If he makes the catch, it’s an easy Pick Six. No one would come close to catching him. Instead, Lucas drops an easy interception.

He yells.

Watching from the sideline, senior safety Jalen Harvey yells. Junior linebacker Khaylan Thomas rushes over and tosses Lucas a football.

“Here – catch the ball,” he says, mockingly.

Lucas catches it and spikes the football in frustration. These opportunities don’t come often, and he blew it.

“I broke on the ball. I read the play real well,’’ Lucas said. “I knew they were going to run the screen. I saw it in Manny’s eyes when he raised up to throw it.”

He smiled.

“A little sun got in my eyes.”

He hasn’t heard the end of it.

“From (Coach White), from everybody on the team,’’ Lucas said. “Even Manny came up to me and was like, ‘Why didn’t you catch the ball?’ I like it though. I’m held to a higher standard.”

Play 2

Third day of practice. Receivers and defensive backs go through 1-on-1 drills. Lucas again lines up opposite Harry. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound receiver breaks long. Wilkins’ pass is on the money. Harry makes a diving catch in the end zone.

“Twenty-four,” Edwards says, referring to Lucas’ jersey number. “It’s OK.”

As the drill continues, Edwards pulls Lucas aside.

“Chase is a talented player, (but) out of high school he was a running back so he’s just learning the fundamentals,’’ Edwards explained. “And what he’s struggling with a little bit, is off coverage, when a guy closes his cushion down, he stays in his peddle too long and the guy is able to break his cushion down and then all of a sudden he’s trying to catch up.”

Lucas defended Harry better the rest of the day.

“I was letting N’Keal run up against me and get on my toes,’’ Lucas said. “That’s what a receiver wants in a DB in a rep like that. I first went to Coach Herm and he pulled me aside and told me to flip my hips at an according time. Coach White told me the same thing. We went over it and over it. During other reps I was flipping my hips and I was actually covering N’Keal better than I was in the 1-on-1s, so I tried to learn from it.”

Play 3

Third day of practice. This time Lucas is matched up against Terrell Chatman. The junior receiver streaks to the middle of the field. Wilkins’ pass is on time but under-thrown. Lucas jumps in to break it up. A nice play – until an official throws a penalty flag for pass interference.

“Ah, come on!” Lucas yells.

As practice continues, Lucas approaches the official.

“I asked him, ‘How’s there a PI?’’’ Lucas said. “He said I was looking at the ball and we were fighting but I played through his back. It made me mad. I’m a perfectionist. I like to be perfect all the time. No matter if it’s N’Keal or Julio Jones, I want to win that rep.”

After practice, Lucas watched video of the play.

“I did play through his back,’’ he said. “It didn’t look like a PI to me, but it’s not up to me. If I put it in their hands, they may call it against me. I’d just rather pick off the ball.”

White thought it was a good play.

“Anytime it’s 50-50 like that, they’re going to call it against the defense,’’ White said. “It’s not his fault the ball was under-thrown, but he was still able to not just completely run the guy over but actually turn, stop, find the ball and have the hand-eye coordinator to put his hand on the ball. That’s a bang-bang play. Let the boys play.”

Being coachable 

Player evaluation doesn’t often include “being coachable,” but it should, especially with talented players.

Not long after meeting Lucas in December, White asked him: “You’re not going to mind if I cuss you out, right?”

“Not at all,” Lucas said.

Asked how often that happens, Lucas didn’t hesitate.

“A lot,” he said. “Cuss me out? OK. Yes, sir. But then teach me. I’m trying to learn.”

That’s what the great ones do, White said. They hear the message, not the tone. At the Kajikawa practice fields, it’s a daily and necessary process.

“There’s high expectations for this guy,’’ White said of Lucas. “Much higher than probably anybody I’ve been around. I’ve had some great corners play for me and end up getting drafted. But just natural ability, all the measurables, had a great first year — the bar is set pretty high.

“And the cool thing is, we don’t have to remind him to live up to it. He’s doing the things that he constantly needs to do to get better.”



ASU football had to settle for a day trip to Camp Tontozona in coach Herm Edwards’ first season but made memories, including Edwards’ fall on Mt. Kush
Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral sports

Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at [email protected]. Follow him at Listen to the ASU Pick Six Podcast, available on iTunes, Stitcher and the Google Play Store.